Basic Dining Etiquette – The Bread and Condiments

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 85,811
    Nancy Mitchell of The Etiquette Advocate explains how to politely eat rolls and bread, and how to use condiments.

    Nancy Mitchell

    Nancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).

    Nancy Mitchell: Hello, I am Nancy Mitchell with the Etiquette Advocate and we are taking about dining etiquette. We are going to talk now about bread, butter and other condiments. Bread can be served in two ways, it can come as an individual roll thats on your bread plate to the left of your place setting or it can come in a breadbasket. If you are served an individual roll and its on your plate, the best practice is to break one piece of the bread at a time, break that very close and low to the bread plate and butter one piece at a time in eat one piece at a time. What you would not do is break the roll in half, butter half of the roll and take a bite out of half of that roll. So, one piece at a time, butter one piece at a time. Butter comes to you in a shared dish in most cases, you would take butter from the shared dish, you would place it on your bread plate with your butter spreader and you would pass the butter to the next person to your right. Then you would take your butter spreader, you put the butter on that one bite that you have broken and eat that one bite. If this is not the case, there isnt an individual roll placed on your plate, there may be a breadbasket. Its your responsibility, if you were the closest person to the breadbasket to start the bread around the table. You pick up the basket, even if you are not having bread yourself, you pick up the basket, you would notice the things that are around you and say, thats my job, get that started, pass that to the right to the next person would you care for some bread?

    Same thing with other condiments, if you have the salad dressing, you have other things that are shared by the diners at the table, even if you are not using those condiments, get them started, pick up the salad dressing, pass it to the guest on your right. Salt and pepper is an exception to that rule, wait until someone asks for it. If it close to you, they may turn to you and say, Would you pass the salt? If they say that pass the salt, you pass salt and pepper together, they are never separated. You try to put those down, next to the person, next to you; dont place them in their hand. Put it next to them and it will avoid any spills or dropping them. Traditionally, salt was served in something called a saltcellar. These were placed at various points around the table and may or may not have a small glass spoon. If this is the case, when you say pass the salt, you will get only the salt and you use the spoon to sprinkle it wherever its needed. If individual saltcellars are offered, they will be in front of each guest, may not be with the spoon, you pick up your saltcellar you use the point of the clean knife to take a bit of salt from the cellar, sprinkle it where you want on the plate, put the saltcellar down. Remember also then once that knife is used, if a knife is used any utensil is used, it must go back on to plate not back on to the table cloth. So, think about other people do they need the condiments that around you and be a good neighbor, get things started and pass to the right. Next we are going to taking about the soup course.